How do you feel when it comes to leadership? Have you ever squirmed when it comes to owning your strengths and talents? Can you answer the question: What are you really good at?
What does it mean to be a leader?
Unless you’ve been immersed in leadership development you may not consider that you already lead in valuable ways. I aim to explain why you already are enough of a leader as you aspire to ‘be and do more.’ Which is sometimes elusive and over rated.
How do you define yourself?
Recently I was in a room of very talented women who introduced themselves so humbly that, on the one hand, I was impressed with their humility, but on the other hand, it didn’t respect their level of accomplishment, talent and contribution.
If you are interviewing for a job and don’t talk about your strengths, they can’t read your mind. So it’s smart to be literate in your strengths for strategic reasons. But overall, if you don’t know your preferences it’s difficult to navigate life and make good choices.
So let’s take a minute to get clear.
Clarity leads to solutions. And preferences flow from our interests, talents, values and strengths. Preferences can be useful in cultivating leadership.
Everyone has talents.
Everyone has strengths.
Everyone has preferences.
Everyone has competencies
Everyone has shortcomings.
So why focus so much on the latter?
You’re not alone if you focus on your shortcomings or what’s missing rather than your ‘wins’. So what if you used your existing lived experience, preferences and talents and didn’t need ten more credentials before becoming a leader?
Stepping Into Your Leadership:
Most of us are more talented than we give ourselves credit for. We’ve all heard “who does she think she is?” or “he’s so full of himself.”
Owning strengths doesn’t mean you’re ‘full of yourself’. It is an indication that you’ve taken time to get clear. Discernment is smart. And acting on talents means we can make contributions and use our potential. Difference makers often step into leadership because of their causes or passions. But that’s just one kind of leadership.
I’ve met very few people that aren’t leaders in one way or another. We all have things we’re good at. When it comes to women, so many of the ‘jobs’ we do are ‘just part of life’. So if it doesn’t come with money or status you may not realize you are in a leadership role. Nothing is more heart breaking to me than a woman who is of service to others and is not aware of how much of a difference she makes in the world.
Leadership can mean you are a leader in your family. Or in your community.
Some leaders balance a family budget. Work late into the night. Take care of loved one’s needs. Do emotional work. Drive, cook, teach, fix, shop, motivate, organize, love, give, clean, recycle, paint, wash, volunteer, listen, solve problems, etc. etc.
Some leaders work hard at all of the above and then go to jobs, study, educate themselves, or start businesses they love.
Leadership is the paid and unpaid work.
Leadership happens in your home and in your community but the jargon might be tripping you up. Why not consider where you can more honestly own your competencies and talents. Because the more you see that you already make a difference in life by being who you already are, and doing the things you do, the easier it is to feel a sense of peace about life.
Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. And make choices that are kinder, and right for you. And perhaps, at the right time, tap into further potential and purpose. And be more accepting of the amazing person you already are. Because I’ve noticed most of us can be unkind and critical of ourselves and not treat ourselves like someone we love.
You already are a person who has an array of valuable skills. Enough feeling you ‘don’t do enough’ or ‘aren’t talented enough’. It’s not a race. Or a competition. So, until the popular opinion of leadership broadens, start getting connected to your capacity and contribution now. Acknowledge and appreciate what good you do already.
About the Author:
Susan Washington, B.Ed, M.Ed, CPCC, has a quarter century expertise in education, training and development. Susan’s passion for quality of life and excellence includes her children, her business, her yoga and her community. Her coaching programs inspire you to be true to your values and make a difference the way that’s right for you. Susan’s definition of success keeps balance, heart and family in mind.